If you live in the Netherlands for four months or longer you ought to register at the BRP (Basisregistratie Personen). The BRP is a database which contains personal data of all residents of the Netherlands (as well as from people who have left the Netherlands again). When you register yourself at the BRP, you’ll receive your Citizen Service Number (burgerservicenummer = BSN) within four weeks after registration (normally!). With the BSN, you can be identified by governmental and non-governmental organisations, which is why you’ll basically need it for all steps ahead (opening a bank account, getting health insurance, register at a GP etc.).
To register at the BRP, you need to make an appointment at your municipality, which in most municipalities you are supposed to do within five days after arriving in the Netherlands.
If you are staying in the Netherlands for less than four months, you need to register nonetheless to get your BSN but are allowed to use your address abroad. Check the webiste of the Dutch Gouvernement on how to register in the Non-residents Records Database.
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